Category Archives: Australia

Jamsheed Beechworth Roussanne 2014

Jamsheed Beechworth Roussanne 2014

I must admit, I went a little off wine for a while. Not off wine, really – I mean, I still drank the stuff, as well as alternative beverages, but I stopped reading about it, stopped writing about it, and went a while without being particularly struck by it. Without, to use a phrase from the French vinophile bible the Guide Hachette des Vins, un coup de coeur, a moment when a simple intoxicating beverage picks you up by the inside of your mouth and swirls you dizzyingly and deliciously around the room.

Then, over the last few months, it started happening again. A 2011 Polish Hill riesling from Jeffrey Grosset, a Bourgogne pinot noir from Mark Haisma and a 2006 Cotes du Rhone from Domaine de la Janasse all got me a bit excited. A while back my phone self-destructed, taking with it a recording of an interview I’d conducted that morning and was supposed to turn into a newspaper article, and I spent several unhappy hours searching in vain for a solution, or for another human who might be able to offer me a solution. By the evening I was frustrated and unhappy in a very fundamental way and then, in the time it took me to unscrew a cap and pour a glass, my troubles were blown away. Temporarily, sadly.

It was a Jamsheed roussanne from Beechworth, approximately halfway between Melbourne to the west and south and Canberra to the north and east, in that part of Australia where place names are – to the English atlas-reader, at least – at their most sublimely ridiculous. Nug Nug, Yuckandandah, Boomahnoomoonah, Tangambalanga and Walla Walla – which is just about halfway to Wagga Wagga – are all thereabouts.

I hadn’t just stumbled upon it. For the first time in a long while, I read about a wine, decided it would be a very good idea to put some in my mouth, took action and then put some in my mouth, all within the space of a few giddy days. Jancis Robinson, who I find a reliable critic and a very correct writer, if rarely an inspiring one, gets the hat tip here, plus newish online “wine boutique” Hook & Ford for selling it to me at a fine price – thanks also to a handy discount code found on their Facebook page – and getting it to me swiftly. I actually received it, tried it and promptly wrote this about six weeks ago, but it took until this morning, with the sun in the sky and a slight breeze drifting through the back door, for me to add a picture to the words.

It’s one of those wines that pleases all the senses. A vibrant straw yellow colour with faint brush of green, as soon as I poured it my day brightened. It smells amazing, bright and complex, a bit reductive, extremely comehitherish. And then, upon actually imbibing, it zings. Full-bodied, as most Rhone whites are, it spreads creamily over the tongue before starting to swoop and soar, like a flock of particularly tunesome and fragrant nightingales. It is genuinely exceptional, the kind of drink that would make turn any sceptic into an enthusiast, and a lapsed enthusiast into a ranting proselytiser. For a little under £18 I also consider it to have been a bargain.

It has all happened at a very opportune moment, for the current political and indeed economic situation in the UK demonstrates that intoxication has never been more important. It is a burden I intend to carry manfully and, with this in my glass, perhaps also, if I can force the rest of the world to the back of my crowded and clouded mind, pleasurably.

And so, here I am. Hello again. It’s been too long.

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Domaine A Lady A Fumé Blanc 2005

“Oh my god!” said Mrs Cellar Fella when she took a sniff of this. After a quick sip, she proclaimed that it tasted of cheese. This is not her standard reaction to sauvignon blanc. But then, this is not a standard wine. Some wines, lots of ’em, are hard to find information about. Not this one. It’s all over the internet like teenage tourists on a Robert Pattinson waxwork.

It’s a new world sauvignon blanc unlike any other I’ve ever had, from a one-acre plot of vines in Tasmania, that gets plenty of lees contact during fermentation and then spends a year in French oak. You basically can’t buy a new world sauvignon that was harvested earlier than 2008. This one is five years old, and the Swiss bloke who made it says it could have another five and be all the better for it.

It doesn’t taste of cheese. But it doesn’t taste like sauvignon blanc. It doesn’t taste very oaky, but it is intensely buttery and creamy and, er, vanilla-ey. It smells like rotting apple peelings. You’re not sure if it’s pleasant or not, but it’s certainly redolent of something pleasant.

The flavour is complex and long and certainly good. It is a wine to savour and ponder. It is not a summer barbecue favourite. It isn’t an easy quaffer. I’m not really used to drinking white wines this complex. I’m enjoying it, but I’m confused by it.

Tesco Finest Block 7a Viognier

Back to Tesco’s, then. I’d like to point out that I don’t do all my shopping there, but I think they do have some genuinely good offers on at the minute. A couple of weeks ago Waitrose did, but it’s not then any more now is it.

Anyway, here’s a very small picture of a very enjoyable wine, down to £4.99 for another couple of days. I’d like to think that I discovered viognier before it became the trendy grape variety. I remember a few years ago I was in South Africa with my wife and we visited a vineyard. When we did the obligatory tasting, the woman running it asked what white wines we liked. I said viognier was my current favourite and she almost fell over backwards. It turned out that she was also a big fan of the grape and she’d never met anyone else who was. So I’m officially a trendsetter.

This is Australian and rather good. I’m not the first person to notice it – at the recent Decanter wine awards it won the Australian white single varietals trophy, which proves that a) there’s a prize for everything, and b) it’s not terrible. In fact, it’s really rather delicious. Absolutely bone dry, to the point of tasting salty, but with honeyed, herbacious aromas and a long, delicate, delightful aftertaste. A solid gold bargain at this price. I could drink a lot of this (over a period of time, of course, I’m not one for binge drinking).

One complaint though – Decanter’s website says it has “pure apricot kernel aromas”. What does an apricot kernel smell like? I mean, really…